Conversation isn’t about quantity. It’s about quality. Engaging conversation isn’t something that happens with just anyone. For most people, and certainly for me, conversation is fully formed only with people who understand you. That’s not necessarily people who know you. A lot of people who have known me for years will never understand me.
It’s something that starts early. Kids have quality of conversation. I like most kids anyway, but some have a special ability to deal with my immaturity. Scant minutes ago I was overcome by my younger brother Alec, seven years old.
Me (and this was completely unprovoked) : “Alec is a crudmonkey.”
Alec (after a swallow of food) : “Matt’s a crudmonkey!”
Me : “You can’t say that to me.”
Alec : “You said it to me first. I didn’t do anything to you.”
Me : “I only called you a crudmonkey because I knew you were going to call me a crudmonkey. And I was right!”
Alec : “Huh, you want to be right again?”
Take that kind of thinking and mature it for a few decades. Lightly mature it, anyway, and you have a common line of sight. I can be sociable and diplomatic in every day talk with total strangers. In real conversation though, only certain people need to try. If you’re easily offended, you’re in the wrong place. If you’re afraid of offering offense, you’re in the wrong place. If you can’t defend your opinions intelligently, then you’re in the wrong place.
Even then there’s something about familiarity. The inside jokes, remembered lines and moments. Random ideas and sometimes nonsensical phrases creep in, but there is a special language to that. It can make no sense and somehow still be something that sets people laughing. If they’re the right people.